Do you know if the eggs you're eating are healthy?
When it comes to commercial eggs, its not what you'd expect. I recently inspected our main supermarket websites, contacted egg producers directly and also did my own testing on a variety of eggs and found some interesting results. Some of which I share with a little humour in this video here, or the summary version here.
Commercial eggs - not what you'd expect:
I was disappointed to find ALL of our commercial eggs are coming from chickens that eat grains or "cereals" as the major part of their diet. Do you think that's healthy? Seeing "organic" on the egg box gives you the impression that they're healthy, and whilst the grains (such as corn, wheat, maize, barley and oats) are "organic", this is still not the natural diet of the animal and has a massive impact on the nutrient profile of the egg.
Eggs from grain fed chickens can contain as much as nineteen times more omega-6 than omega-3. The natural ratios in a healthy egg are normally around 1 to 1 or up to 1 to 4. This is concerning because increased levels of omega-6 can contribute to inflammation in the body due to its pro-inflammatory properties. When the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is right, that isn’t a problem since omega-3 fatty acids are rich in anti inflammatory properties. I believe its widely known that many people have high levels of inflammation these days and things like turmeric are popular now for that reason, but I've never heard it discussed why we have such high levels of inflammation in the first place.
I think the way forward is to spread the word and locate egg producers that can provide eggs from chickens that eat their natural diet only. I haven't mentioned any other animal products like meat, but from my recent research ALL our commercial animal foods look like they're raised on an unnatural diet. Its time to look elsewhere for animal food sources and support other options that are out there. Ask suppliers what their animals are fed, the more people that ask this question the more they will think about it and consider other options in the future.
The best way to eat eggs:
Ideally you want to consume your eggs raw but only if you know they're from a reliable trusted source. When I have eggs I usually have them raw and can tell you if you give it a go for a week or two you'll be surprised how quickly you get over that initial yuk feeling - only took me a few days actually (and that’s not just because I'm a hard tough Kiwi bloke you know - kidding!). Like most things its about getting your mind out of the way. One of my teachers swears by a raw egg with olive oil and a raw clove of garlic every day. I don't recommend eating the same foods each day and the raw garlic clove certainly wasn't for my body but I did find the olive oil with the raw egg made the 'raw egg experience' a little more pleasant.
Scrambling your eggs is one of the worst ways to eat eggs as it oxidises the cholesterol in the egg yolk. Mother nature puts things together for a reason.
If you’re not comfortable eating your eggs raw, soft boiled or soft poached is the next best option.
Eggs are often one of the most allergenic of foods, most likely this is because they're cooked. Heating the egg protein actually changes its chemical shape, and these changes can easily lead to allergies. When a healthy egg is consumed in its raw state, the incidence of egg allergy can virtually disappear.
Eggs have an interesting history and many of us have been told false information about them. Some of these myths include:
Bad for cholesterol (as a source of saturated fat) and promote heart disease - In more recent times we know that not to be true. Animal foods as a source of saturated fats has often had unjustifiably a bad wrap. It is this altered composition in the animal fat from chickens fed on an unnatural diet that poses a threat to our health, not the “fat” itself.
Separating out the egg whites: As a kid I was always told that separating the egg whites from the eggs and consuming only the egg white was a good idea, but actually its not. Not only do we need the fat contained in the yolk to metabolise the protein of the egg white, but a controlled diet of only raw egg whites can lead to severe biotin (biotin is a B-vitamin) deficiency. This is because when you consume raw egg white alone, without the yolk, a component in them called 'avidin' binds to biotin, potentially creating a deficiency in your body.
Keep your eggs in the fridge: That's not necessary! Eggs that are fresh and have an intact cuticle do not need to be refrigerated as long as you are going to consume them within a relatively short period of time. I keep mine in the cupboard.
Here are some ways to check your eggs for freshness and quality - if you're planning on doing these tests with eggs that have been stored in the fridge remember to leave them out for an hour at room temperature before testing your egg - when they're pulled straight from the refrigerator they'll seem fresher than they actually are. If your egg fails any of these tests I wouldn't eat it:
Check for cracks, if there are any then give her a miss!
The wobble test test for freshness: Roll the egg across a flat surface. A fresh egg will wobble.
The sink test for freshness: You can also place the egg in a bowl of water if the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh. If the egg sinks to the bottom but stands on its point, it’s still good but needs to be used soon. This is because the shell is porous and air accumulates in the base of the egg, the less fresh the egg the more air it will have in it. If the egg floats to the top, she's too stale!
Yolk colour: After you crack the egg open, the egg yolk should be a deep gold/orange colour - if its its pale yellow then that chicken has been fed grains. The fats in these eggs are discoloured (pale yellow) and lack nutrients such as sulfur, which give an egg its good taste! The deep orange colour is not a definitive test that the chicken has been eating a healthy diet - sometimes this can be due to the breed of chicken - in the case of the only supermarket egg that I found that had a very promising colour (Burford Browns) I was informed by the company that they are also fed a diet of cereals and oilseeds.
Shape: The yolk should be a firm round shape, strong and keeps its shape when you poke it. The yolk should have with a nice convex uprightness to it. If the egg yolk is not this shape or easily bursts then she’s a dud!
Healthy eggs typically contain:
1/3 less cholesterol
¼ less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene